Pothole tragedy: A crater on Ranchi-Simdega state highway near Hatia . Picture by Prashant Mitra
Riding down the 10km stretch from Birsa Chowk to Ring Road near Tupudana without any mishap these days is nothing short of an achievement. Commuters and vehicles taking the road, which is part of the Ranchi-Simdega-Rourkela state highway, can say why.
Potholes, some the size of mini pools, ditches and craters, filled with knee-deep water, mark the road, making it a nightmarish ride for commuters. The highway links Chaibasa, Simdega and Rourkela with the state capital.
Although the condition of the stretch is worse near Hatia, Tupudana and the upcoming Ring Road, the innumerable ditches require the drivers to be especially cautious and negotiate the gaping holes with time to prevent any mishap, thus doubling the travel time.
Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh, who was on a recent visit to the state, took the road to go to Saranda.
While it is not known whether the minister made any comment on the plight of the stretch, commuters are grumbling.
“I used to reach Birsa Chowk in 15 minutes from Tupudana when the road was in a good shape. At present, it takes at least 30 minutes to complete the journey if one is lucky. Don’t even ask about the situation when it rains,” said Xavier Kachhap, a resident of Tupudana, who often drives down to the state capital in his SUV.
“The ditches give me a hard time every time I come to Ranchi and I have been doing so for the past two months or more. I don’t know why the road is not being repaired or whether it will be repaired at all,” added Rameshwar Prasad, a resident of Khunti, who practises law in Khunti court.
Apart from the residents of areas like Tupudana, Khunti and Torpa, a large number of Ranchi-Simdega buses and Ranchi-Tupudana auto-rickshaws also travel on the route everyday.
The bus owners also rued that the travel time had shot up because of the dilapidated stretch.
“Buses waste nearly 20 minutes on this small stretch of 10km from Birsa Chowk to Ring Road. Usually, a bus from Ranchi to Simdega completes the trip in three hours. But now, the Ranchi-Simdega buses are taking more than three and a half hours as they are taking time to manoeuvre the craters,” said Chanchal Chatterjee, owner of Chanchal Liner buses.
Tourists headed to the deer park at Kalimati near Khunti are equally inconvenienced.
Executive engineer, state highways (Ranchi division), Umesh Prasad Sinha admitted to the poor condition of the road but had an excuse ready — the rains.
“We will begin repairs of the road once the monsoon takes leave. We are unable to do so at present as it rains almost everyday. In such circumstances, any kind of renovation cannot be taken up,” Sinha said.